Poor game but that wasn’t our fault, it takes two teams to make a decent contest and the Wexford that turned up was clearly a lot closer to the one that lost to Offaly and scraped past Laois than the one which gave both Clare and Waterford scares. 2-19 is still a fair knock on a dirty oul evening.
I mentioned on the old forum that we’re defending opposition puck outs ‘Kilkenny style’ this season, whereby the full forward, half forward and midfield lines all drop about 10 yards behind their markers. The intention here is that they’ll still be too close to their men for the keeper to risk passing to them, while effectively leaving us with spare men around our half back line. This was employed again last night but evidently Wexford hadn’t noticed this or have any effective plan to counter it, thought they really struggled on their own puck outs and that was a huge factor in us dominating the game. Will be interesting to see how we fare against Kilkenny in this regard, as they obviously defend puck outs the same way (having invented this to my knowledge).
Individually, I thought O’Donnell belied his lack of experience with a fine Championship debut, I like his physicality.
I’d worry about Gougher in the corner, the reason we had to get him out of there five years ago was his lack of pace and he’s hardly got any quicker in the intervening period. I always thought his stickwork was very tidy and he still seems to have that.
Rushe was good but I think a fair bit of that was down to Wexford bizarrely leaving him as the spare man and then pucking high ball in on top of him, was only ever going to end in tears.
Dotsy is a marvel. He’ll be 33 in October but I’ve never seen even one sign of decline athletically, in fact the more expansive game we’re playing now seems to have given him a new lease of life. Always made himself an option for ball last night and is the cutest player we have in terms of making sure a foul or borderline foul by the opposition results in a free in, the rest of our lads have a bad habit of being too honest to their own detriment in those scenarios.
The case for Kilkenny beating us comfortably is obviously plain to see. We could have a meltdown on our short puck outs and even if we don’t, the lack of ball winners among the forwards is a big worry. But I may be alone in nevertheless giving us half a chance against them if the game pans out a certain way. Clare showed in the League semi-final that a team with mobility and pace can cause them a mountain of trouble. They’ll be coming in cold and won’t be at full strength. I’m not saying I expect us to beat them but I won’t be needing smelling salts if we do. We performed much worse in our opening game against Wexford three years back yet improved from that to draw with the Cats and then win the replay. We’re an inconsistent team but on our day can be very good, if we have one of those in three weeks then we’re in with a shout. It’s Mission Unlikely, not Mission Impossible.